What Should I Do If My Cat Has A Loose Tooth?

Check for other signs of dental disease

In addition to a loose tooth, there are other signs that may indicate your cat has dental disease. According to the Cornell Feline Health Center, the most common signs are red and inflamed gums, bad breath, difficulty eating, excessive drooling, and facial swelling. Red, inflamed gums indicate gingivitis, which is inflammation of the gums. Gingivitis is an early stage of periodontal disease. As dental disease progresses, it can lead to loose teeth. Other signs of advanced dental disease include pawing at the mouth, dropping food, and behavioral changes.

Determine if the Tooth is Deciduous or Permanent

Cats have two sets of teeth in their lifetimes, just like humans. They start with a set of deciduous or “baby” teeth that begin to erupt around 3-4 weeks of age. Kittens have a full set of 26 deciduous teeth by around 6-8 weeks old. These deciduous teeth naturally fall out as the permanent adult teeth push through the gums to replace them, starting around 3-4 months old. By around 6-7 months old, most if not all of the deciduous teeth should have fallen out as the permanent teeth erupt.

It’s normal for deciduous teeth to become loose and fall out on their own as the permanent teeth come in. However, permanent teeth should remain firmly rooted in the gums and not become loose. A loose permanent tooth in an adult cat is not normal and indicates an underlying dental issue that requires veterinary attention.

To determine if a loose tooth is deciduous or permanent, look at your cat’s age along with the tooth’s location. The incisors are usually replaced first starting around 3-4 months old. The canine teeth are replaced next around 4-6 months old. Finally, the premolars are replaced last around 5-7 months old. If your cat is older than 7 months and has a loose tooth, it is likely a permanent tooth that requires veterinary examination.

Make an appointment with your veterinarian

If your cat has a loose tooth, it’s important to make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. Your vet will conduct a full oral exam to determine the cause of the loose tooth and check for any signs of infection or other dental disease. They may want to take dental x-rays to get a better look at the tooth’s roots and surrounding bone structure.

Based on the exam and x-rays, your vet will discuss treatment options with you. These may include extracting the tooth, performing a root canal and crown, or monitoring the tooth if it doesn’t seem to be bothering your cat. According to this source, loose teeth can indicate dental problems, so it’s best to have your vet assess the situation.

Your vet can determine the health of the tooth and surrounding structures, recommend appropriate treatment, and provide pain medication if needed. Don’t wait to make an appointment, as a loose tooth that goes untreated could result in injury or infection.

Provide care at home

There are some things you can do at home to care for a cat with a loose tooth while monitoring the situation or awaiting a veterinary appointment. Focus on feeding soft foods that are easy to chew and swallow. Canned or pouch foods that can be mashed are ideal. Avoid hard kibble or treats during this time. You can also try adding a little warm water to dry food to soften it. According to the Drake Center, gently rubbing your cat’s teeth and gums daily can help keep them clean and healthy. Use a soft bristled toothbrush and pet-safe toothpaste, if your cat will tolerate it [1]. There are also oral rinses made specifically for cats that can help control bacteria. Just dab a bit on your finger and massage it gently into your cat’s gums. Providing care at home can make your cat more comfortable while you monitor the loose tooth.

Treatment Options

There are a few treatment options when a cat has a loose or damaged tooth:


Extraction, or removing the tooth completely, is the most common treatment. According to veterinarians (https://thevetdentists.com/how-to-care-for-a-cat-losing-its-teeth/), this can be done safely under anesthesia and cats recover well after tooth extractions. Extraction may be recommended if the tooth is very loose, fractured, or infected.

Root Canal

A root canal attempts to save the tooth by removing the infected pulp inside and sealing the tooth. This is not commonly performed in cats, as it requires specialized equipment and expertise. Root canals may fail over time, eventually requiring extraction anyway.


A dental crown covers and protects the remaining part of the tooth after a root canal. Crowns are uncommon for cats as they require extensive dental work. They may be an option for certain important teeth.


Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat or prevent infection related to a damaged tooth, according to veterinarians (https://www.justanswer.com/pet-cat/1dtvu-year-old-cat-loose-tooth-front.html). However, antibiotics alone will not fix the underlying problem with the tooth.

Extraction Procedure

When a cat’s tooth is badly damaged or diseased beyond repair, extraction is often the best treatment option. The procedure to extract a tooth is usually performed under general anesthesia. This allows the cat to be fully sedated and not feel any pain during the extraction process.

According to the Wellesley Natick Veterinary Hospital https://www.wellesleynatickveterinaryhospital.com/site/blog/2022/10/15/cat-tooth-extractions-what-to-expect–what-to-watch-for, the veterinarian will first examine the tooth and surrounding gum tissue. Radiographs may be taken to evaluate the tooth roots and plan the extraction method. Once the cat is under anesthesia, the vet will loosen the tooth with an elevator device and then extract it, sometimes sectioning it if needed.

After the tooth is removed, the socket is cleaned and sutured closed. The cat will recover from anesthesia and be monitored by the vet staff until stable enough to go home. Most cats recover quickly, but may be tired, nauseated, or uninterested in food on the first day after extraction surgery.

Proper at-home care is essential for your cat’s recovery after a tooth extraction. The Memphis Veterinary Specialists recommend https://www.memphisveterinaryspecialists.com/site/blog-cordova/2022/09/15/cat-tooth-extractions limiting activity and preventing infection of the surgery site. Your vet will send your cat home with instructions for medications and follow-up care.

Aftercare Following Extraction

Proper aftercare is crucial for your cat’s recovery after a tooth extraction. The extraction site will be tender and painful for several days, so it’s important to manage your cat’s pain. Your veterinarian will likely prescribe pain medication, such as buprenorphine or meloxicam, to give your cat relief. Be sure to give all medications as directed. Additionally, you’ll need to feed your cat soft foods that are easy to chew and swallow. Canned or pouched cat foods are ideal after an extraction. You can also soak dry kibble in warm water to soften it. Avoid hard foods that could potentially get lodged in the extraction site. Monitor the extraction site closely for any signs of bleeding, swelling or discharge, which could indicate an infection. Keeping the area clean is also key for proper healing. Your veterinarian will provide detailed instructions on caring for the site. With proper aftercare and pain management, your cat should make a full recovery within two weeks following the tooth extraction (Hill’s Pet Nutrition).

Root Canal Pros and Cons

A root canal involves removing the infected pulp from inside the tooth, disinfecting the canal, and filling it in order to save the tooth. Some pros of a root canal for cats include:

  • A root canal allows the tooth to be saved rather than extracted.
  • It resolves the infection inside the tooth and prevents it from spreading.
  • It restores function to the tooth so your cat can eat properly.

Some cons of a root canal for cats are:

  • Your cat will need to be under general anesthesia for the procedure which always carries some risks.
  • Root canals can be expensive, with costs often ranging from $800-$2,000 depending on your location and veterinarian.
  • Even with a root canal, the tooth may eventually need to be extracted if infection recurs.

Discuss the pros and cons of a root canal with your veterinarian to determine if it is the right choice for your cat’s loose tooth. Your vet can examine the tooth and evaluate whether it can be salvaged through this procedure (https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/does-my-cat-need-a-root-canal).

Crowns Pros and Cons

Crowns can be a good option to reinforce and protect a tooth that has been damaged, but they also have some downsides to consider. According to the Veterinary Dentistry Specialties website (https://www.vdspets.com/services/crowns/), the main pros of crowns are:

  • They reinforce and strengthen weakened teeth
  • They prevent further damage and fracture
  • They allow pets to keep and use damaged teeth

However, there are also some cons to crowns:

  • The tooth usually needs to be extracted first for the crown to be placed, which is invasive.
  • Crowns can be expensive, with costs ranging from $800-2,000 per tooth according to the i20 Animal Hospital website (https://www.i20animal.com/services/dental-crowns).
  • Crowns may need replacement down the road.
  • If the tooth with the crown later needs a root canal, the crown will need to be replaced again.

Overall, crowns can protect damaged teeth long-term, but require surgery for placement and carry a significant cost. Pet owners will want to discuss the pros and cons with their veterinarian before pursuing crowns.

Preventing future dental disease

Regular dental cleanings and preventative care are crucial for preventing dental disease in cats. According to the Cornell Feline Health Center, “The best way to prevent gingivitis in cats is to regularly remove plaque build-up by tooth brushing.”

Brushing your cat’s teeth daily or several times a week can significantly reduce plaque and tartar buildup. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and cat-safe toothpaste. Take it slow and make it a positive experience with praise and treats. It may take time for your cat to get used to toothbrushing.

There are also dental treats and foods formulated to reduce tartar buildup. The kibble textures and ingredients are designed to gently scrape plaque and tartar off teeth as the cat chews (VCA Animal Hospitals). Ask your veterinarian to recommend appropriate dental diets and treats.

Regular professional cleanings and exams by your veterinarian are also important. Cleanings allow complete removal of plaque and tartar above and below the gumline that brushing may not reach. Preventative care from kittenhood throughout life is key to dental health.

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